When I first started blogging, oh how I dreamed of being a full-time blogger. You know, kicking back in your pajamas, checking e-mails and interacting with folks online all day. However, after passing the two year mark, I’m not so sure. The reason why vacations are so enjoyable is partly because of work. While the reason why success is so gratifying is because of countless failures.
Blogging is 100% a hobby of mine where there is little pressure to succeed. There are no posting schedules to upkeep and there are no advertising commitments to fulfill. If only a dollar of online income comes one month, I don’t sweat it because I don’t blog for the money. Money is a byproduct of doing something consistent. Writing and interacting with the community are simply some of the most fun things I’ve ever done. And yes, I admit I am a blogging addict.
So what would happen if I suddenly had no job and had to rely on only blogging for income. Oh my, I must believe my stress level would shoot through the roof as I wonder how to live off under $200,000 a year in San Francisco! I’m being facetious about the $200,000 figure, as even in an expensive place like San Francisco, you can live quit well off much less and not just have to eat ramen!
If I couldn’t get my old job back after a couple years of trying, I’d probably sell 90% of my assets and relocate to somewhere cheaper. The problem with that strategy is that I love it in San Francisco, and don’t want to leave, unless it’s to Hawaii! Let’s discover some of the downsides and upsides of being a professional blogger shall we?
DOWNSIDES OF TURNING YOUR HOBBY INTO A FULL-TIME JOB
* You never know for sure what your next paycheck will be. Some weeks you’ll get a rush of advertisers knocking on your e-mail door to do business. Other weeks there will simply be nothing worthwhile to highlight. As a pro-blogger, you are at the whim of your advertisers. As a result, you need to spend a ton of time building advertising relationships and marketing yourself to them. This in turn takes away from your writing efforts, which ultimately hurts the quality of your content. Suddenly, many of your posts become predominantly affiliate related posts to earn you a buck. One affiliate related post every 4 or 5 posts is fine. But when money making posts start to be every other post, then your blog is going to die. It’s important to develop multiple on-line revenue streams, so you’re never caught with your pants down.
* You will have less freedom. Everybody thinks you can do whatever you want if you have a blog. The irony is, if you are a full-time blogger, you’re going to have less freedom to write what you want, simply because the expectations of you will be so great that you can’t afford to mess around. Remember, your life, and those you support depend on your blog income to survive and flourish. Heck, just your health care insurance premiums alone depend on your blog income to grow at a rapid pace thanks to out-of-control inflation!
* Your pressure will increase tremendously. As soon as you announce you are going to be a pro-blogger, your readers expectations go up. Posting once a day may just not be enough anymore. Furthermore, the quality of your posts have to go up exponentially since you now have easily 8-10 hours extra a day to dedicate to your blog! If you aren’t writing mind blowing stuff compared to your part-time blogging peers, then you’re going to feel awfully insufficient. You’ll begin doubting your decision to go full time if you don’t receive a commensurate percentage increase in traffic, as the time you are spending blogging.
* Your health may suffer. Ever notice that weight-loss is a reoccurring personal topic among bloggers? We all want to lose some weight as our waist-lines expand as we sit at our desks all day and write. I’ve noticed some of this myself and wrote a personally important post to me entitled, “The Mental To Physical Connection For A Healthier Lifestyle” so I don’t lose myself. Playing competitive tennis is too important for me to get weighed down by extra pounds. Some may even say there’s little difference to blogging vs. going to a desk job 9-5. Not true, you’ve got to physically go to the desk job, walk around, and expend energy. As a pro-blogger, you just wake up and walk 20 feet to your desk.
* You might start hating what you love. If you add up the four things above, I’m pretty sure you’re going to not like blogging as much anymore. That chocolate cookie you occasionally eat doesn’t taste as good after eating it everyday for months. You begin to resent the fact that you no longer can blog for a hobby and only have one main source of income. In summary, you could end up hating your blogging job as much as your day job again!
UPSIDE OF TURNING YOUR HOBBY INTO A FULL-TIME JOB
* You are your own boss. The freedom to do what you want, when you want is priceless to many. If you are an independent thinker who doesn’t handle a structured environment well, but can handle the pressure of doing everything on your own, being your own boss is the best.
* Everything becomes a business expense. You want to vacation in Europe, and realize you have several clients who are based in Europe. Well of course your flights, meals, and rental Ferrari is a business expense! All your gear you use to do business, such as your Macbook Pro, iPhone, and monthly internet fees are all business expenses. The list goes on and on.
* You get to maximize your creativity. A good blogger is a great storyteller with immense creativity. The more you write, the better you get. If you love photography, you can learn to take your own pictures and combine them with your posts. If you like to come up with theories and inventions, you can use your blog as a platform to test them out.
* You can substitute yourself. Instead of writing the majority of your content, you can hire a ghost-writer to mimic your writing style and do all the writing under your name for you! Then, you can hire someone to handle all your administrative and advertisement duties, and you can literally just kick back and watch the money role in. There’s no way you can fake yourself with a full-time job. Blogging is one of the few mediums where you can replace yourself and still do well. I’ve never done this myself, but after learning a couple well known personal PF bloggers do this, it sure sounds tempting!
If you look at the pros and cons carefully, you can replace “blogging” with “entrepreneurship”. Blogging full-time would be amazing, if at minimum for a little while. I can imagine all the trips I’d take and the many more cruises I’ll make all the while running my websites. Every time I go on vacation, I pretend I’m a full-time blogger just to see how it goes. So far, so good.
My biggest fear is really focusing too much on blogging, ending up hating it and burning out. I’ve burnt out with many hobbies before, including golf, tennis, chess, spades, poker, snowboarding, and mountain biking. Each one of these activities I used to love, but at some point or another, I just got bored. It’s taken me 9-10 years to rediscover my passion for tennis after I burnt out in 2001 to go play golf instead. The reason why I rediscovered tennis was because I couldn’t break a 10 handicap, and tennis is a more frugal sport to play after the financial crisis!
It’s been a several years since the worst of the economic downturn, and I have a feeling that many who set out to be full-time bloggers or location independent entrepreneurs are coming back to the traditional workforce because it’s harder than originally planned and opportunities are opening up again. Then there are those who’ve stuck with it through thick and thin, and because they did, they are able to see more revenue opportunities with the economic rebound. Either way, as bloggers, we should all see if we can do this full-time at some point without quitting our day jobs until we’re absolutely certain. We may never transition, but it’ll be nice to say we have the option!
RESOURCES FOR A BETTER LIFE
Manage Your Finances In One Place: One of the best way to become financially independent and protect yourself is to get a handle on your finances by signing up with Personal Capital. They are a free online platform which aggregates all your financial accounts in one place so you can see where you can optimize your money. Before Personal Capital, I had to log into eight different systems to track 25+ difference accounts (brokerage, multiple banks, 401K, etc) to manage my finances on an Excel spreadsheet. Now, I can just log into Personal Capital to see how all my accounts are doing, including my net worth. I can also see how much I’m spending and saving every month through their cash flow tool.
Negotiate A Severance Package: Don’t quit your job, get laid off and negotiate a severance package instead. Negotiating a severance enabled me to receive six years worth of living expenses from a company I dedicated 11 years of my life to. If I had quit, I wouldn’t get any severance, deferred compensation, medical benefits, job assistance training or unemployment benefits and neither will you. I believe so strongly in the message of never quitting that I spent a couple years writing this 100-page book entitled, “How To Engineer Your Layoff: Make A Small Fortune By Saying Goodbye.” I’m absolutely certain this book will help you recognize your rights as an employee and break free from the corporate grind to do something you truly want to do.
Updated for 2015